Preview by: Jack Foley
AFTER making New Zealand box office history and wowing festival
audiences across the world, Whale Rider, a film by Niki Caro,
has been scheduled for a UK release on July 11.
Based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, Whale Rider is a magical
and deeply moving story of one young girl's struggle to fulfil
In a small New Zealand coastal village, Maori claim descent from
Paikea, The Whale Rider.
In every generation, a male heir has succeeded to the chiefly
title. The time is now.
When twins are born, and the boy dies, Koro, the chief, is unable
to accept his grand-daughter, Pai, as a future leader.
A few years later, Koro is convinced that the tribe's misfortunes
began at the time of Pai's birth and calls for his people to bring
their sons to him, in the hope that the new leader is among them.
Pai loves Koro more than anyone in the world, but she must stand
up to him and a thousand years of tradition to reveal the true
Whale Rider has been produced by BAFTA winner, Tim Sanders (Lord
of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Frighteners), John
Barnett (What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?) and Frank Hubner
(The Musketeer and Feardotcom).
It has played to favourable reviews and won awards in most of
the places it has debuted, taking the People's Choice Award at
the Toronto Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Rotterdam
Film Festival, the Audience Award at the San Francisco International
Film Festival and the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance
Maori writer, Witi Ihimaera, was living in New York City, in
1986, when a whale became trapped in the Hudson River, prompting
him to recall his childhood memories of the whale legends in New
He subsequently wrote Whale Riderin 1988 and now co-produces
the movie, which stars Keisha Castle-Hughes, as Pai, and Rawiri
Paratene, as Koro.
The film website, comingsoon.com had this to say about the movie:
"Director Niki Caro's Whale Rider is one of the great movie
gems of 2003. Being a refreshing and successful New Zealand funded
movie, it displays a unique side of the native New Zealand Maori
culture that the tourists rarely see. Fascinating scenery, sensational
acting and a solid, enjoyable script provides the ideal ingredients
for a true Kiwi classic."
As we said earlier, the movie debuts in the UK in July and IndieLondon
looks forward to delivering its verdict then.